Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes. Sizing up my hips and breasts with the look of remembrance where his experienced hands had been hours before.
Each time had me tasting the bitter good-bye in his hello kiss. His tongue telegraphed the warning message and I ignored it. As in the beginning, he flashed me the smile that never reached his eyes–eyes that always said so much and so little at the same time.
For the countless time in the last two years, he let me walk away and followed up with a text message the following morning while I was weeding my garden.
I always have a hangover after being with you
His words triggered the itch even though I was determined to stop the cycle. He was like nettle and I was tired of the prick.
Me, too. I’m going to disappear for awhile
We can’t keep doing this
Augh. Really, bastard? You’re gonna say it again? But I hardened and resolved.
I’m just going to grow shit and write shit. You won’t hear from me
The conversation continued like it typically did. Both of us confessing remorse and promising to be better. All the while, I weeded and snatched and pulled and plowed the earth to make it whole. I took off my gloves only long enough to reply to each and every last nail he put in the coffin.
He finally ended it with a promise to love me forever (rain or shine) and said he prayed that I’d have a beautiful garden. I prayed that he’d have a beautiful life and meant it. He could always pull that last bit of harshness away and find my soft truth.
The garden that summer was a complete disaster. I nurtured, teased and tried to tickle life to the surface. The result was lifeless, pale-green and lackluster. Storms demolished the heirloom tomatoes, drought sucked the nutrients from the soil, and over-zealous weeding plucked out seedlings before they had a chance to grow.
Typical me. Fluttering, fixing and fucking up. Making mountains while they were still mole-hills. His memory continued to plague me though the vision of his cruel eyes were buried deep in my darkest places.
Places that only he had been.
How different would life be had I not glanced his way? Had I not reached out when his eyes spoke to me. Had I recognized the emptiness behind his allure. He didn’t even see it himself until we were too far in.
I never meant to hurt you
You are my one true love
The view of my gardens both sickened and delighted me. Flower and vegetable beds each bore a tribute to our “last” times together. Roses for the first sweet good-bye and pink peonies for an encore the following week. Daisies for a resolve to do better and an entire bed of zinnias when I caved again. We were each consumed by cocaine-laced kisses that devoured us and left a path of pain and regret in its wake.
Grow shit. Write shit.
It was all shit. No words to feed the craving in my body and nothing that would grow in the wasteland I’d created.
Except for one patch.
A small section in the woodland where I’d carelessly thrown seeds of peppermint. Neglected and forgotten, the mint spread and flourished filling the air with a faint scent of recognition. Just as Hades intended when he created the persistent little plant.
In a flurry, I yanked out stems by the root hoping to contain the infiltration and keep it out of my failing corn patch. Each morning, new life appeared with more vigor until I couldn’t kill it any longer. I surrendered and laid in its bed of invasion. Wisps of peppermint circled my halo of hair and the cool, sticky leaves clung to my thighs. It was then that the phone vibrated and rang the tone reserved just for him.
Are you growing shit?
My fingers sketched the same expanse that his hands had navigated on my body the months before. Lines of regret, scars of passion and the memory of being full right before he emptied me again.